We left Dar es Salaam almost a month ago – Saturday 27 October 2012, 5 months and 14 days after we first arrived. Defeated, deflated, sad to some extend that the project did not materialize, but incredibly excited to return to our beloved South Africa.
Two days earlier we started the day as normal, preparing to pack all our belongings into huge boxes for the return trip via road freight, when we suddenly remembered that the electricity was off for most of the previous day. Now, we had gotten so used to it, and in cases of need, we always had the generator as back-up, but the problem is that most the petrol stations around us did not have the luxury of a generator, and if your car happens to be on empty as ours was that morning, you are stuffed if you need petrol and the electricity is off. No petrol, nothing!!! So, Kobus jumped in the pick-up to race to the petrol station, and I continued with the task at hand. I heard him return as Sakkie went and opened the gate for him, and the next minute I heard my beloved Scottish terrier, Whiskey, yelp in pain. He had gotten under the car’s wheel!! I vented my shock on poor Kobus and Sakkie who were as devastated, but after Kobus, who thankfully knows all about animals, felt him all over, we were satisfied that nothing was broken. However, the sight of him was so sad, as half of his coat got ripped off his skin with the wheel half-driving over him. The skin now became beetroot red and oozing. We were so shocked, especially since he had to board a flight home the next morning, with all the other furry friends. There was no way we could even risk calling the same veterinary doctor who sorted all there permits and inoculations out as the chances of him refusing to clear Whiskey for transport were slim. So we nursed him gently the whole day, and we put him onto a soft pillow in his cage for the flight the next morning, hoping for the best. Can you imagine how I hated the idea that my injured dog must fly away from me, land in Johannesburg, go straight into quarantine, and I would not be allowed to see him for the 10 days? It was the longest 10 days I can recall in my life!! We requested a visit by the state vet in Johannesburg to double-check him upon arrival, who assured us that he will recover.
We flew out 24 hours later, planned like that so that we could still be around in Dar es Salaam should we encounter problems, stayed in Johannesburg for 2 days and then flew down to Cape Town to celebrate my daughter’s 25th birthday with her and her friends. We also bought our youngest a smaller vehicle after he complained bitterly about the petrol consumption of the Jeep, and then set off with same Jeep, packed to the brim with small items for our new house in Heilbron, the following Monday. I had arranged to pick up my two black cats that my niece fostered for me whilst we were in Tanzania, and with these two safely ensconced in their cat carrier, after administering a Rescue (calming) tablet to each, we had very few meows from them. As a matter of fact, they stretched and yawned a few times, but slept most the way. We finally got tot Heilbron at around 7 pm, after 14 hours on the road. We picked up the keys, unloaded, and fell into bed.
Monday morning, filled with excitement, we left for Johannesburg to collect our other furry kids from quarantine. The happy reunion was a memory to behold!
By now just more than 3 weeks have passed. We live in this picturesque Free State dorpie (small town), called Heilbron. If you had told me a year ago that I would end up her, I would have thought you had lost your mind. The people are super super friendly, and we cannot move without smiling faces greeting us everywhere. We have discovered the local home bakery, and we stock up on old favourites like date balls and Hertzoggies frequently, delicacies only the plattelandse (rural) people can perfect. (A Hertzoggieis a jam-filled cookie base topped with meringue mixed with coconut).
The farmlands and vistas around are breath-taking! We go to the Eeufees Dam almost every other day, where people fish lazily, the dogs swim or play around, and we either lie and tan or read the time away. The weather has been extremely kind to me, but alas I don’t think it will last long!! See I am so so scared of thunderstorms, and they are an almost daily occurrence here. However, after last weeks’ heck of a storm, it has been clear, warm days. BUT, the thunderclouds are becoming more and more each afternoon, and soon they will make for a spectacular lightning show again, and I will take cover under my beloved husband’s arms under the duvet in bed. Jackie, my Africa dog, will come and cower by my head, and I will need to calm her as well as myself! We get woken by the most amazing bird-song every morning at around 5 am. But you cannot get angry at such an early wake-up call, as it is too heavenly. So I normally stumble sleepily to the loo, and then return for a deep short sleep before proper wake-up time. It makes for a peaceful step out of the bed to start a day!
We have, amidst these peaceful surrounds, had our moments of bitterness towards the Bakhresa Group / Azam in Tanzania, for not fulfilling their initial 2 year contract wage towards Kobus, and we are still looking at avenues to force them to honour same. They did not even offer for us to have the furniture in our Kigamboni house – it was removed to some storing area at their Cola factory, and one wonders how many pieces are in fact still there. Sad at times, and it means that we had to come and use some of the little monies they offered us as a severance package, to buy basic appliances and furniture again. I can still hear my older sister’s voice urging us to rather store our belongings (two houses filled with good quality furniture and appliances), but stubborn as we were, we believed this contract would run the full 10 years, and we sold everything – the lot!! Looking on the bright side, it now means that as fairly newly weds, we can furnish and decorate a new home together, instead of having “his” or “hers”.
Since we’ve been back, it is as if our senses have been on full alert, we appreciate just everything about South Africa so much more! I would love to teach all South Africans to appreciate our beloved country. Perhaps a trip into Africa for some cynics will highlight just how advanced, clean, functional, friendly and more South Africa and South Africans are. We cannot stop saying how incredibly wonderful it is to walk our dogs in the warm summer evenings, through neat, well-kept neighbourhoods, where happy families and animals live. Unfortunately we did not have the privilege in Dar es Salaam – we hardly ever walked out our gates, and the locals do not like dogs. We cannot get enough of the long hot showers we enjoy every day – the geyser in the Kigamboni house was just too small for us to linger longer. We marvel at the convenience of buying everything we need on our doorstep, from not only one shop, but being able to choose where we want to shop. A luxury we were not afforded in Dar, as all the supermarkets were on the opposite side of the harbour ferry, and for those who have read my previous posts, you will recall the soul-destroying traffic scenes. 7 Hours on the road to do half an hour of shopping! We love hearing and speaking our home language, Afrikaans – especially with the rich accent from the Sotho tribe in the area – music to the ears. And so the list goes on – every day brings new reminders why we were so homesick, and happiness for being able to experience what we call normal again.
We are moving to the farm-house at month end – a lovely home, large and surrounded by lush green lawns and trees, hopefully also housing some song-birds to wake me in the morning. We have started to work, learning the processes. For those who know me, please don’t think the irony of me, city girl, business woman, social creature now going to live on a farm, where I need to don boots most days as I will work with the calves, no regular social contact other than with the work-force, is lost on me: You see, I always said I wanted to marry a farmer, have a cow, a sheep, a goat, 20 dogs, 20 cats and some chicken. Well, now I will have most of those, perhaps not so many dogs and cats, but at least enough of all the other wishes – and the most wonderful farmer husband I would ever have hoped for. His love for me, and my love and respect for him, makes any sacrifice from my side worth it – over and over again. But heed this – be careful what you wish for, cause just maybe, God in his wisdom, makes that wish come true. In my case, I am grateful, thankful and all of that, but why o why did it have to be a dairy farm and not some romantic picture like a top-class wine farm!!! 🙂
P.S. ………. Don’t miss the next episode where I will show you how a bull, a world-class, moer of a big bull, is tapped for semen………